Baltimore County Council Stands Against the Dream Act (Well, Mostly)

On Wednesday, five of the seven Baltimore Council members not only pledged their support for the movement to bring the Dream Act (aka In-state Tuition for Illegal Immigrants) to referendum, but they also signed a letter urging county residents to sign the petition.  Republicans David Marks & Todd Huff, along with Democrats Bevins, Amman, and Olzewski committed their support in ink.

Sadly, missing from the mix was our very own Tom Quirk and our northern neighbor, Ken Oliver.  Does anyone want to garner a guess as to why Quirk would choose to remain in the minority and go against the rest of the council to stand by such an unlawful piece of legislation?

It’s curious to me that UMBC and CCBC just happen to reside in the 1st district.  We know from testimony in Annapolis that many colleges and universities from around the state were in favor of such legislation.  I’m not saying that UMBC and CCBC have in fact come out in support of the law, but I am saying that it’s a bit of a red herring.

Here’s my question though, and this isn’t just to Tom (because I wouldn’t want to pick on him).  No, this question goes to all the elected officials who have stood in support of this outrageous law.  Why would you spit in the face of federal law just to get votes from people who aren’t supposed to vote anyways?

It’s true that the hispanic population in Baltimore County is on the rise, but not all hispanics stand in support of illegal immigration.  Most of them fought hard to come here under legal pretenses.  Why support those who want a free ride?

I will say this, nearly 40% of the total support for the referendum movement has come from Baltimore County.  At this point, the petition signers almost outnumber the latino population.  And those numbers are only going to grow.  So even if Tom is choosing the road less traveled to garner votes, I’m thinking, in the end, it might backfire.

Now, supporters will come up with all kinds of sob stories in support of this legislation.  I know, I’ve heard them at the State House.  It’s a human rights issue and these poor innocent immigrants (who are here illegally) are suffering at the hand of Big Brother.

Yes, it’s sad.  But let’s just say we give them this subsidized education.  Then what?  What will they do with their citizen paid degree?  They can’t legally work here, so what kind of career can they possibly esteem too?

No worries, I’m sure the Maryland General Assembly will answer those questions sooner or later in the form of another piece of law breaking legislation.

Friends, if you don’t do another thing this year politically, sign the petition.  We need 56,000 signatures by June 30.  We’ve made it through the first hurdle at the end of May, but we need to keep up the pace.

It’s imperative that this bill go before the people because we’re confident that it will be overturned.  It’s up to us to send the message.

This is not a Republican issue.  Many Democrats across the state have joined in the efforts, including three of our County Council members.  I have to say that I’m proud of my council.  It takes guts to stand up against the mainstream of your own party.

To sign the petition, go to www.mdpetitions.com.

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Clearing My Chest

If you haven’t heard about the recent upheavals in the Baltimore County Republican Central Committee, you’ve probably been living under a rock and need to crawl out of it.  Maybe you don’t even know what the Central Committee is, what it does, or why it’s relevant.  If that’s the case, I was in the same boat a little over a year ago.  Augie and I have a plan to educate our base as to the inner working for both the state party and the central committee, but for now, just know that they’re important to our movement.  I’m not going to go into deep detail, one, because I can’t and two, because it’s not necessary.  But I do think it’s time I get a few things off my chest.

People say that the Dems must be having a love fest over all this elephant brawling, and maybe they are.  But it’s not like they have anything to boast about.  Seriously, working on the Whisler campaign, we saw all kinds of back stabbing and slander coming from the other side.  The difference was this; For the most part, they hide their animosity between a myriad of fake smiles and flat pleasantries.  I’ll give them this though, they certainly have mastered the art of keeping it all in the family, a lesson I believe the members of the Central Committee (including myself) are learning the hard way. 

Regardless of what has happened in the past, we have to find a way to move forward.  Frankly, we’re stuck together for the next four years and tasked with seemingly insurmountable assignments, raise money and get Republicans elected.  Neither of these goals would be easy to reach in the best of circumstances, and no one could call our present conditions anything close to good much less best.  Not only have we managed to make a mockery of ourselves in the local press, we’re also facing serious additions to the already bumpy road, AKA redistricting. 

Anyone care to hear my solutions?  A couple things come to mind.  For starters, we have to choose to be the bigger people.  Swallow our pride, extend the olive branch and do whatever the hell we can do to work together.  Basically, get over ourselves.  It’s not about us.

Secondly, I think it’s time to turn our attention to Annapolis.  This Saturday, all of the central committee members from across the state will descend upon the Doubletree Hotel to vote in a new MDGOP Executive Committee.  There are many candidates that have thrown their hats into the ring vying for such positions as Secretary, First, Second or Third Vice Chair, and most importantly, Chairman.  Most of these contenders are solid, credible activists with a genuine heart and commitment to the party as a whole.  And it’s up to us to decide who should reside over this party for the next four years. 

Now I’m not going to sit here and clamor on about who the best candidates are.  In fact, I don’t even know who all is in this thing.  I just know I get emails, letters, and a few phones call each day.  Seriously though, it seems like someone could come up with an Excel spreadsheet or something listing all the candidates.  Don’t look at me.  I hate Excel…just ask Leslie.  Point being, I don’t know even know who I’m going to vote for yet…except for who Mike Pappas tells me too (Right Pappas Smile).

When I first dove head first into politics, I thought the state party to be irrelevant.  I still do for the most part.  So, whoever takes over this new executive committee will be tasked with casting a widespread yet focused vision across the state that will inspire people like us to see the bigger picture.  Here in SW Baltimore County, we have one of the most amazing teams.  We’re passionate, hard working and quite frankly, we kick ass.  But not every area of the state operates that way.  And if we’re so disenfranchised from the state party that we develop a tunnel vision for our particular area, I’m quite sure that we’ll never win.  We have to be part of the bigger whole. 

If you’re able to make it down to the convention this weekend, look for your central committee members, Leslie Tinker, Steve Chan, Gloria Murphy, and me, Hillary Pennington.  We’d be happy to show you the ropes, listen to your input and even buy you a beer.  Oh, I forgot that part didn’t I?  Friday night is basically one big party, so definitely don’t miss that part. 

Stay tuned…it’s going to be a bumpy ride.  Make sure you don’t fall into a pothole.

Quirk’s Un-Truth Squad

On Quirk’s website he has a section entitled “The Truth Squad” which is interesting because as you read through it, most of his “truths” are unsubstantiated at best and untrue at worst.  Just because you say something is not true does not make you a true myth buster.  i don’t have time to unravel every point, though I’m sure this will not be the last you’ll hear from me on this topic.

Quirk Untruth #1:

MYTH:  Baltimore County has a $144 million budget deficit

Baltimore County is required by law to have a balanced budget every year.  It does not have, and has never had, a budget deficit.

Really, Tom?  It’s never had a deficit?  I beg to differ.  In December the County Auditor reported a $138 million budget deficit.  By February, that shortfall had risen to $144 million. By May, when the budget was voted through, the deficit had reached $160 million. See, we don’t just pull facts out of our butts.   Now Quirk is right about one thing, it is the law that the budget is balanced come June.  So the Councilmen and County Executive were forced to make up for the downfall.  On May 27, they passed their 2011 budget, and they were kind enough to not raise our property tax rates or furlough county employees.  Why would they do that?  It’s an election year.  That would have been political suicide.  Why do you think they passed that ridiculous excuse for a pensi on reform bill?

A couple notes about the current budget:

  • Saw the smallest cuts in over 20 years, only $200,000 (compared to $900,000 – $1.6 million range in previous years)
  • “In times of recession, it is not a choice to be fiscally responsible,” say Olszewski.  Seriously? So being fiscally responsible is a choice otherwise?
  • “Many departments, which were forced to cut their budgets in this fiscal year to eliminate a $160 million deficit, saw their budgets further reduced for next year,” says Bryan Sears in his article.
  • “If the economy does not improve, they must be prepared to cope with the effects of economic factors and decisions outside their control,” says Olszewski of the councilmen who will take office in January.  Basically newbies, be prepared when the band-aid falls off.

The Un-Truth Squad will return.  Don’t you worry your pretty little head.

 

 

What a Double Standard!

First of all, let me say how thankful I am to have Bryan Sears, the political editor for Patuxent Publishing.  Without him, we may never know what goes on inside our County Council.  It’s not like the Sun covers much about local politics.  End side note.

Yesterday morning, I awoke to the link on my Twitter with this headline, “Council bill bans those convicted of crimes from lobbying, negotiating with county.” Of course, I’m intrigued.  What could the County Council possibly have to say about working with convicted felons.  Now, please understand that this particular law is aimed at two people, Bruce Bereano and Mike Day.   And ironically enough, the only person to vote against the bill was Ken Oliver, one of the subjects of my plight today.

Isn’t it interesting how the County Council would be concerned about convicted felons lobbying the Council, but not about them serving on it?  As most of you know, Sam Moxley was convicted of not one, but two DUI’s in two years time.  He was actually reelected after the first one.  Seriously people, you would vote a man into office who had endangered your lives on the streets of Catonsville?  Water under the bridge I suppose.  At least he’s not coming back next year.

But let’s focus on one who is.  Ken Oliver, convicted of theft related to campaign finance laws, got to keep his job as well.  Doesn’t it make you feel safe when you are represented by not one, but two convicted felons, both of which received lighter than normal sentences due to the fact that they are in public office?

All of a sudden the Council is so concerned about a person’s criminal record.  Please understand that I am not advocating that felons should be allowed to lobby the County Council, but I do believe that the law should clean out all thugs or no thugs.  You can’t have your cake and eat it too folks.  This is another reason why it’s so important that we elect people to our County Council who have integrity and conscience.  You all know that I 100% support Steve Whisler in District 1 who I know possesses these very qualities.  We have to do whatever it takes to get these local candidates elected and bring balance and integrity back to our elected offices.

Another One Bites The Dust

No surprise here, really, Moxley is not seeking reelection.  He says his wife made the decision for him.  Um, I’m pretty sure that second DUI made the decision for you, Sam.  Nobody’s really been counting him in anyways.  If there were, there wouldn’t be FIVE Democrats already in the race.  Well possibly four.  Rumor has it that Kirby Spencer is already out.  Considering she never filed, I’m not sure you could say she was ever really in either.  So, really, my title is worthless.  You can’t bite the dust if you were never in the race to begin with, right?

Let’s move on to the real reason I’m blogging when I should be cooking dinner for three hungry kids and a husband who will walk through the door at any minute.  We’ve all heard that Moxley was considering a run for Clerk of the Court.  With Mensh’s impending retirement, someone has to fill her shoes.  But guess who she least wants it to be?  Yep, Moxley himself. He doesn’t care.  He’s running anyways.

I don’t know much about Mensh, but I like the fact that, despite pressure from prominent Dems, she said and I quote, “How could you even think that a person who has that problem could be in  such a position in the courthouse? That’s how unthinkable, unthinkable this is for me.”

People, this man is an alcoholic.  According to him, he’s recovering, and that’s great.  I’m glad that he’s getting his life back together, but really?  Clerk of the court?  Who does this guy think he is?  How arrogant do you have to be to think that you could hold public office with a record like that?  It’s not like a DUI is some kind of minor offense.  He got into his county vehicle drunk and drove it around town.  I’m actually thankful that he got busted before he killed someone.  Mad props to our police officers.

Sure he’s sober now, but alcoholism is an addiction.  What happens if he’s elected to office and then falls off the wagon?  What happens when he gets behind the wheel drunk again and instead of being pulled over, runs a red light and takes out another car?  Not only would that be tragic, but it would be an embarrassment to the office he holds and the people who put him there.

Clearly he thinks he’s somehow entitled to public service.  Not only did he retain his position as Councilman after his first DUI, the people of District 1 reelected him in 2006.  Then he does again and still gets to keep his job.  What is wrong with this picture?  A man of integrity would have stepped down the first time.

I think I’m starting my own campaign…keeping Moxley out of public office.  I’m glad he’s working the steps, going to AA, and putting the pieces of his life back together, but that doesn’t mean he gets a third chance at representing the people of Baltimore County.  I think we deserve better, don’t you?

Read Bryan Sears take on it and let me know what you think.  You already know where I am on the topic.

Drivers Beware: Speed Cameras Up and Running

Two speed cameras have been activated in Baltimore County, one in Arbutus and the other in Dundalk.  An article on Explore Baltimore County, by Bryan Sears, gives details on the whole ordeal.

Here are my thoughts. Granted I’m no expert, but if you’ve been to Montgomery County or even coming North on 95,  just above of the DC Beltway, you already know where I’m going with this.  Imagine you’re cruising down the road, whether you’re going over the posted limit or not, and you see a police officer parked off on the side of the road.  What do you do?  Well, some people glance down at their speedometers just to check and make sure they’re still good.  Others simply take their foot off the gas just in case (that’s me).  But the vast majority, slam on their brakes, whether or not they were speeding to begin with.  The phenomenon surrounding speed cameras gives the word, overreaction, a whole new meaning.

One time I was driving back from Ikea College Park (love Ikea by the way) and just as I see the sign off the side of the interstate, “Work Zone, Speed Cameras in Use,”  I notice the onset of brake lights.  The guy or gal directly in front of me slams on their brakes so fast and hard, it almost seemed like they were coming to a complete stop.  Thankfully there was no on the lane next to me or I would have hit them.  Ironically neither of us were going over 55 mph.  As I looked around, I noticed that this guy was not the only one completely overreacting.  There were many cars a  swerving cars, fingers raising , and horns a beeping.  I thought they should change the sign to read “Caution death trap ahead. Speed Cameras in use.”

My other encounter with speed cameras is no less annoying.  As I was visiting my friend in Montgomery County, we were driving down some random two lane road, of which I was warned about the speed cameras.  I attempted to be very careful, but none the less, a few months later I received a ticket in my mailbox.  Yes months, since we moved and they pulled our info before we officially changed our address and then the USPS failed to forward the citation.  Regardless, I opened the letter to find a bill for $40 and a picture of my car and my license plate.  Oddly, my van was in a turning lane .  I don’t know about you, but unless your reckless, I’m not seeing how you could possibly speed in a turning lane.  The only thing I could guess was that someone else flew past me and the camera caught me.  However, by the time I received the citation, it was already passed due.  Now I owed a late fee.  I decided not to fight it.  Really, I don’t need a reason to go back to Montgomery County.  It’s like a Venus Fly Trap, just waiting to attack you and drain your wallet.  So I sent in my check.  And again, a month or so later, they send, to my old address, back my check and a letter explaining that they couldn’t process my payment because I didn’t add my citation # to the check.  Seriously, you can’t search by last name? They told me that I had a certain amount of days, like 10 or so, to return the payment before they would notify the State and put a hold on my registration.  December 26, I resent my check with the citation number clearly (and slightly bolder than necessary) written in the subject line.

Guess what showed up in my mailbox a few days later…yep, a hold on my registration.  Aren’t they so sweet?  When I called to fix this oversight, I was told that I had to provide proof that I changed my address is time.  So I did, and guess what?  They still haven’t removed the flag.  All in all, a ticket that I’m fairly sure I didn’t deserve went from being a simple $40 to $95.

Of course I want people to respect school and work zone limits.  Safety is far more important, right?  My experience with speed camera proves to me, at least, that 1) it doesn’t necessarily make things safer, and 2) it seems like it’s more a source of revenue than anything else.